Buzzing with flavor: Beekeepers bringing sweet contest to Lodi

Attendees of the Big Valley Beekeepers Guild 2019 tasting contest sample a variety of honey.

Fruity. Floral. Woody. Spicy. Animal?

Those are just some of the nearly 100 descriptions of honey flavors and aromas that beekeepers, food enthusiasts and trained tasters developed for a wheel created by UC Davis’ Honey and Pollination Center.

On Thursday, Lodi residents who love honey can use the wheel when they sample more than half a dozen honeys Central Valley beekeepers have created at the Big Valley Beekeepers Guild’s annual tasting contest.

“It’s really interesting what people pick up on their palettes,” guild founding director Cherie Sintes-Glover said. “This is very much like wine tasting or olive oil tasting, and there’s a subtle difference to each honey as they melt in your mouth.”

This is the second tasting contest the guild is hosting, in which attendees vote on their top choices based on color, aroma, clarity, texture, taste and flavor.

Sintes-Glover said all of these qualities factor into where a honey is from originally. As an example, she said a lot of bees can be found around eucalyptus trees, and the honey they produce might have a “chemical” taste to it.

Where her bees are kept, Sintes-Glover said the honey they produce tastes somewhat like a taro leaf, which might be a mild nutty flavor.

The first tasting contest was held in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Sintes-Glover said the most unusual honeys from that year aren’t remembered for their flavors or aromas, but their colors.

“Honey can have a variety of color variations, from very dark, almost chocolate brown to an almost clear appearance,” she said. “Olivarez Honey Bees from Orland brought honey from Hawaii and Montana. I didn’t like the Hawaii one, but I like the Montana one because it had a stronger taste.”

She described the Montana honey as being darker on color, sweeter, bolder and tasting a bit more “sugary.” It was almost like molasses, she said.

The honey from Hawaii was lighter in color, she said, and those tend to be more floral in taste.

The tasting contest will begin at about 6:30 p.m. at Juli’s Village Coffee Shop, 416 W. Lodi Ave. Guests are encouraged to arrive by 6 p.m. if they plan on ordering food before the contest begins.

There is also still time for local beekeepers to enter their honeys into the contest. Email the guild at bigvalleybeekeeeprs@gmail.com by the end of the day today. You must be a guild member to enter the contest.

Those entering the contest are asked to being about 30 sampling cups and arrive by 6 p.m. on Thursday. Honey must be harvested in 2020 or 2021.

For more information, visit www.bigvalleybeekepersguild.org.

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